Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
This week’s topic: What will Urban Meyer be doing in 2022?
Josh’s Take: Return to Big Noon Kickoff on FOX
When Urban Meyer was offered and subsequently accepted the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coaching position, he was presented with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, a team with salary cap space, and an aggressive owner… and most people still had doubts that his Jacksonville experiment would be a success.
So far, most people are correct. Of course, there are plenty of things outside of Meyer’s control. The Jaguars failed to attract a ton of talent with their cap space. His second high-profile draft pick, Travis Etienne from Clemson, suffered an early season-ending injury. Last but not least, he was taking over the worst team in the NFL last year. One could point out other factors working against Meyer, but we’re playing the hits here.
Free agent spending, roster makeup, recent success (and obviously injuries) cannot be exclusively controlled or dictated by a new coach. This is all foreign to Meyer. However, these “obstacles” are not impossible to overcome. Turning around the Jacksonville Jaguars is not a Herculean task. The franchise does have money, and the team does have talent. The problem is, Meyer is used to being in complete control — and franchise/culture building is usually a young man’s game. From the get-go, the deck was stacked against Meyer, and the early results have not been great.
The Jaguars are 0-2, having lost by double digits to both the Texans and Broncos. That is not a short list of heavy hitters, folks. Worse than the results are the headlines and the rumors. Urban Meyer seems to be doing Urban Meyer things.
Unfortunately for him, he is no longer the big man on campus. His hiring of former Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle generated so much scrutiny that Doyle resigned the day after being introduced. Meyer said that he had vetted the controversial ex-coach from Iowa, but his stamp of approval is not enough. He now works for a multi-billionaire who owes none of his success to the former Buckeye coach. In the past, Meyer was synonymous with Florida and Ohio State. Those schools gave him a certain amount of power and leeway because of what he generated for the school(s). At the NFL level, Meyer is a small fish in a very big pond.
Beyond the Doyle hire, Meyer has had a few foot-in-mouth moments and seemingly not endeared himself to all his players and coaches. He brought in Tim Tebow to try and play a new position at the NFL level in his mid-thirties. He revealed that vaccination status played a role in roster cuts – something everyone knew, but was not to be discussed openly. His temper has even been the subject of recent rumors — odd for a man with the health issues he has dealt with in the past. All in all, it doesn’t seem like anything is going well in Jacksonville. That is why Meyer should return to where he was the biggest and brightest star. I, of course, am talking about Big Noon Kickoff on FOX!
Meyer was Big Noon Kickoff during his time on the show; pure electricity. Even before his tenure at Ohio State, the coach-turned-analyst was great on television. He spent a brief year at ESPN before making history at Columbus, and generally got positive reviews. But he stepped it up a level at FOX. He was well-spoken, prepared, and broke things down from a real coaching perspective. Some of the segments where he walked Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush through plays or formations on the studio’s fake field? Gold!
Meyer drew praise on the FOX show, and helped turn it into a competitor with ESPN’s Gameday. I would like to see him back in that role, replacing the cardboard cutout of Bob Stoops. No offense to a Youngstown, Ohio great, but Stoops is not good. At all. The dropoff from Meyer to Stoops is a big one. The former Oklahoma coach is dry and generally just not as entertaining. He does not hold an audience like Urbs. Not only did Meyer hold an audience and provide great insight, he seemed to really like the job. He enjoys attention, and Big Noon Kickoff would give him just that.
Going back to television could be a great opportunity for Meyer, and I think people would get past a quick exit from Jacksonville. Saban left Miami, Spurrier was an epic failure in Washington, and nobody cares — outside of Miami and/or Washington D.C. I’m sure Saban and Spurrier don’t lose sleep over it. Meyer could be a star for the FOX pregame show, and enjoy a long career doing so.
For a man with previous health issues, why not jump at the opportunity to go back and stay involved with the game, but indirectly? Work one or two days a week, throw on some makeup, break down film, and go spend time with your family or golf at Muirfield with the rest of your time. The Jaguars aren’t winning a Super Bowl any time soon, and FOX needs you. Viewers aren’t even sure Bob Stoops is alive half of the time. Come back home, Urban. Come back home.
Gene’s Take: Year two in Jacksonville
I really like Josh’s argument here, and I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to Meyer returning to the FOX pregame show. He was really entertaining and really insightful in that role, and at this stage in his career is probably what he could do best.
For starters, let it be known that I am not the biggest Urban Meyer fan. While I respect the things he’s accomplished over his head coaching career and I will forever cherish Ohio State’s national title during my freshman year in 2014, I think the good has far outweighed the bad over the last several years. Aside from his off-field issues — which, to be frank, is a pretty large aside — his assistant coaching hires and seeming addiction to keeping his best friends employed costed the Buckeyes at least one if not two more national titles before his tenure in Columbus came to an end.
On top of that, I really don't think he’s all that good of an in-game head coach. He is undeniably one of college football’s best-ever recruiters and one of the top program builders the sport has ever seen, and I'm not trying to take any of that away from him. However, nothing he put together on the field was all that spectacular — especially in his final few seasons at Ohio State where the game had seemingly passed him by. For that reason, I was kind of shocked that he took on the head coaching job at Jacksonville.
I don't know how many of Urban Meyer’s antics really work at the professional level. In college football, Meyer was a larger-than-life presence that demanded respect and accountability from teenagers who rightfully looked up to a guy with so much prestige and past success. The NFL is an entirely different ballgame, as these are now paid adults who don't really care what you have accomplished outside of the league. The whole rah-rah attitude and personality doesn’t really play at that level, and it is not surprising at all to hear some of the reports that the Jaguars aren’t exactly buying into that style of coaching.
However, all that being said, Urban Meyer is an incredibly stubborn man, and I don't see him giving up on the NFL gig without at least running it back for one more season. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and as Josh alluded to it would be near impossible for even the greatest of head coaches to turn around the mess that is the Jacksonville Jaguars in just one season. I don't think the front office is going to give up on him after one year, and as fun as it is to speculate, I can’t see Meyer jumping ship to take the USC job or any other head coaching vacant in the college ranks anytime soon.
It may be the boring pick, but I think the most likely scenario for next year is that Urban Meyer remains in Jacksonville. The team is probably going to be really bad this year, and they will likely get another high draft pick and have the cap space to potentially add more talent for his second go-around. If things continue to sputter, then it probably won't be long before Meyer gets the boot or decides to hang it up and return to TV. I could see things going south quickly and having to change my mind on this opinion, but for now I think we still see Urban Meyer roaming the NFL sidelines in 2022.